Body Talk

By: Hannah Wallace

Food for Thought Sarasota’s favorite fish, grouper, contains up to a third more Omega-3 fatty acids than an equal serving of canned tuna. The benefits of those added Omega-3s—including lower triglycerides and blood pressure—can become evident in a matter of weeks. (Just be sure to mind your mercury.) The FDA’s newest dietary guidelines recommend upping […]


Food for Thought
Sarasota’s favorite fish, grouper, contains up to a third more Omega-3 fatty acids than an equal serving of canned tuna. The benefits of those added Omega-3s—including lower triglycerides and blood pressure—can become evident in a matter of weeks. (Just be sure to mind your mercury.) The FDA’s newest dietary guidelines recommend upping our seafood intake to eight ounces a week.

Helping the Hand
Dupuytren’s contracture, an often painless but sometimes debilitating condition that causes one or more fingers to be pulled toward the palm, was identified in 1831 and affects as many as 2 million Americans, many of them Caucasian men over the age of 40. Though easily diagnosed, Dupuytren’s once required surgery. But now a quick and easy treatment, Xiaflex, can restore the hand’s range of motion in as little as 24 hours.

“Patients don’t always understand what Dupuytren’s is, and it’s not very painful, so they don’t really complain about it,” says Lakewood Ranch orthopedist Dr. Christopher Sforzo, who’s been administering Xiaflex since it was released in March of 2010. “The first sign is usually small nodules in the palm. Over time the fingers will start to curl in more and more, so that you can’t lay them flat.”

Rather than surgically removing the affected connective tissue (or puncturing it with a needle 20 or 30 times to rupture it), a single injection of Xiaflex causes the troublesome tissue to dissolve, so that doctors can restore motion the following day. “If people have progressive loss of motion in their fingers, they should have it evaluated by a hand surgeon,” says Sforzo. “Dupuytren’s is much easier to treat at its early stages.”
Pop quiz: What do you know about Dupuytren’s contracture? Do you know that it’s also called palmar fibromatosis, and that it affected Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan? Do you even know how to say it? (Hint: DOO-pa-trenz.)
Listen Up!
“Long, slow cardio went out with eight-track tapes. It’s not efficient. Muscle burns fat. Strength training burns the highest number of calories.” –Maureen Corristan, Sarasota Adventure Boot Camps, sarasotaabc.com
 

Say Goodbye to BMI
BMI (Body Mass Index) has long been a way to estimate body fat percentage and diagnose obesity without using sophisticated lab equipment. But the BMI formula—weight (in pounds) divided by height (in inches) squared; multiply the answer by 703—has its limitations. For instance, the relationship between height and weight doesn’t take into account muscle density, so inarguably fit athletes like Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard (6 feet, 11 inches tall, 265 pounds) wind up with a BMI like 27—technically obese.

Enter BAI—the Body Adiposity Index. Though it’s still being tweaked, experts believe the relationship between hip circumference and height better approximates body fat percentage across a broad range of gender, race and body types. The newly released BAI equation is hip circumference (in centimeters) divided by the result of multiplying height (in meters) times the square root of the height—all of that minus 18. You might not need fancy lab equipment, but you will need a calculator.

Body Fat Percentage Charts:
Women
Age Healthy Overweight Obese
20-40 21-33% 33-39% Over 39%
41-60 23-35% 35-40% Over 40%
61-79 24-26% 36-42% Over 42%
Men
Age Healthy Overweight Obese
20-40 8-19% 19-25% Over 25%
41-60 11-22% 22-27% Over 27%
61-79 13-25% 25-30% Over 30%

Hip circumference / (Height X √Height) – 18

Bright Futures
“Like everything else in our body,” explains Sarasota dentist Dr. Patricia Sabers, “the nerve and vascular bundles in our teeth shrink with age. Even if you have white teeth when you’re young, they’re going to get darker.” That’s why dental hygiene becomes even more important the older you are.

To keep that smile bright well into your golden years, take advantage of products like automatic flossers, water picks and electronic toothbrushes. Aging lessens the body’s natural defenses, and “the bacteria in your mouth can travel to your heart,” says Sabers. “You don’t fend off those little buggers as well.”

Still hoping to smile even brighter? Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes and treatments will work, but have patience—they may take up to a year to reach your desired effect. Same goes for whitening treatments performed by your dentist; you may need multiple sessions before you’re satisfied. But there’s an added bonus: “Bleaching, too, kills bacteria,” says Sabers. “So it’s not just about vanity.”

For more health and sports news from Hannah Wallace, check out her GenXtra blog.